New Liberty High School look is unveiled

May 4, 2010

Residents are getting their first look at the new and improved Liberty High School, as drawings for the school are made available.

The plans include an increased budget and the potential for a second phase of construction, which would include a new classroom wing with science labs and a new arts and technology wing for the school, if district officials and community members determine another construction bond is a viable option.

In 2006, the project was budgeted at $15.17 million. The project’s budget is now $15.4 million, according to the district’s Capital Projects website.

The schematic and site plan drawings are available on the district’s website.

Increases in the budget are mainly because the recession has enabled district officials to save money on construction costs at other project sites, like Issaquah High School and Creekside Elementary School, said Sara Niegowski, district communications director.

“The costs are coming in under what we expected, which is wonderful because in years previous to the economic downturn, construction costs kept escalating,” she said. “Now, we’re within or a bit below our estimated costs when the bond happened, which is why there is a little extra for other projects, like Liberty.”

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Woman attacked on Tiger Mountain Trail

May 4, 2010

Police said a man armed with a Taser or stun gun attacked a woman on Tiger Mountain Trail, just outside of Issaquah, on April 24.

The woman, a 24-year-old Seattle resident and a state Department of Natural Resources employee, fought off her attacker and escaped with only minor injuries. Police did not catch the suspect.

The woman said a man in running attire accosted her as she worked about 100 yards up the trail at about 10:40 a.m. Saturday. The man approached her, engaged in small talk and when she turned around he grabbed her, shocked her with the device and pushed her to ground.

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Issaquah Police Department promotes officers to new rank

May 4, 2010

Issaquah Police Department leaders promoted five officers to the new rank of corporal last week.

The department created the rank to serve as a second-in-command for sergeants, and to help the corporals gain more experience and advance their careers.

Police officials promoted Paul Fairbanks, Todd Johnson, Darrin Benko, Christian Munoz and Bill Jarrell.

“This is a great opportunity for our new corporals to receive specialized training and on-the-job experience as supervisors,” Police Chief Paul Ayers said in a news release.

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County creates sex offender search, prompts changes in school notifications

May 4, 2010

The King County Sheriff’s Office website now includes a sex offender website search that allows users to view information about sex offenders within a two-mile radius of a given address.

As a result, the Issaquah School District has slightly altered its sex offender notification system.

District officials used to send out alerts from time to time about class two and three sex offenders that had already been living near their schools for some time.

Now, district officials will send out reminders for parents to check the county’s website.

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New, relocated businesses boost Issaquah economy

May 4, 2010

The local economy has improved since last year, but increased retail offerings and high-profile construction projects could help the city rebound in the months ahead.

Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble said the city had progressed beyond the economic doldrums of last year. Joe’s — the longtime sporting goods retailer — closed as the city grappled with dual real estate and building construction slowdowns brought on by the recession.

“In 2010, we started to see the economic recovery start to take hold,” Trimble told City Council members April 27. “We’ve had some new retail moving in, both big and small. Construction activity has been returning.”

Swedish Medical Center started construction on a campus in the Issaquah Highlands late last year, and Best Buy and Sports Authority will open Issaquah stores in the months ahead. Sports Authority will occupy the old Joe’s space, and Best Buy will fill vacant space in the bustling East Lake Center shopping complex anchored by Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Sports Authority should generate $85,000 to $100,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city; Best Buy should pull in $100,000 to $200,000, city Finance Director Jim Blake said in a May 1 conference call with council members.

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County Council confirms ex-Newcastle city manager as permitting agency chief

May 4, 2010

King County Council members confirmed former Newcastle City Manager John Starbard to lead the county agency responsible for building and land-use permits.

Officials said they hope Starbard can change the Department of Development and Environmental Services — a department Councilman Reagan Dunn described as “the worst-run agency in county government” until now.

The agency issues building and land-use permits for properties in unincorporated King County, enforces county building and land-use codes, issues business licenses and staffs the King County Fire Marshal Division.

County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Starbard to the post March 1, the same day Starbard started at the agency. The appointment required confirmation from the council.

The council discussed the appointment and questioned Starbard at a committee meeting last week, and then sent the confirmation to the full council for approval. The council OK’d the appointment May 3.

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Local residents participate overwhelmingly in census

May 4, 2010

Most Issaquah residents — 76 percent — had participated in the nationwide census by last week.

To complete the decennial count, census workers will start visiting homes in May. April 16 marked the deadline to return census forms by mail. Census workers will soon fan out across neighborhoods to visit households that did not return the forms.

The return rate for Issaquah exceeds state and national averages. Statewide, 74 percent had returned census forms by last week. Washington has also exceeded the participation rate for the 2000 Census. Officials reported the national participation rate at 72 percent last week.

Issaquah lags behind neighboring Sammamish: 80 percent of residents there returned census forms.

Track the numbers on the U.S. Census Bureau website.

The mail participation rate reflects the percentage of forms mailed back by households. Census Bureau officials developed the measure for the 2010 count, in part because of the recession and accompanying higher rates of vacant housing.

The rate excludes households with forms that were returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable, suggesting a vacant house. Temporary census workers will follow up with undeliverable addresses.

County plans switch to flat-fee rates for permits

May 4, 2010

King County Executive Dow Constantine wants to remake the way the county permitting agency does business. The executive called for a new rate structure for the agency — and a switch from unpopular hourly fees to fixed fees — as well as a new unit to handle permitting in rural King County.

Constantine unveiled a reform package for the Department of Development and Environmental Services last week.

He proposed the updated rate structure to make the permitting process more predictable for customers, and to offer incentives for employees. The executive ordered the permitting agency to develop financial projections in order for the flat-fee structure to be included in the 2011 budget. King County Council members will adopt the budget by late fall. Under the reform package, the existing rate structure will remain in place for the rest of the year. Constantine also proposed creating a Rural Land Use and Permitting Unit by next year.

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Kokanee fry released into Ebright Creek

May 4, 2010

When Wally Pereyra was a fisheries biologist, his first project was rehabbing trout in a stream in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

By the time he moved to his current farmland on the Sammamish Plateau in 1973, he was “imprinted with stream ecology,” he said.

“The stream is a major part of the farm that I moved into,” he said. “The kokanee were a part of the landscape in the fall.”

A hodgepodge of elected officials, government scientists, school children and citizen volunteers met April 21 on Pereyra’s property to release some 200 Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon fry into Ebright Creek.

Ray Mullen, of the Snoqualmie Tribe, banged a ceremonial drum while the fry were dumped from three coolers into the creek on an overcast spring day. Most people in attendance wore boots to trudge through the spongy terrain around the creek.

“I feel like we’re taking a step toward recovery today, instead of steps toward extinction,” said David St. John, chairman of the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group.

The fry released April 21 were part of a larger group of 37,000 fry released into Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis creeks in April.

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Metro asks riders to create apps

May 4, 2010

Information about the next bus to the Issaquah Highlands could someday be available from the Apple App Store — and developed by a Metro Transit rider.

Metro has offered behind-the-scenes data to tech-savvy riders to develop Web or mobile phone apps to make riding buses easier and more convenient.

Metro opened up the data about bus schedules and routes to independent programmers April 1. Metro offers the data free of charge to anyone who agrees to the terms of use. Learn more about the program here.

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